Wind Sculpture

I just returned from a ninja-style overnight to Death Valley. We arrived early afternoon to hazy conditions and normally I wouldn’t have headed into the dunes until closer to sunset but the photographer I was shooting with felt the filtered light would work well so I went with it. As it turns out that was a good decision as the light was not too harsh but provided some good shadow contrast. What was interesting is to see the resulting white balance which rendered the dunes more white. Appreciate any comments and/or suggestions. Thanks

You may only download this image to demonstrate post-processing techniques.

Dave, the conditions certainly were different and the side lighting has created some gorgeous details and textures in the dunes. I like the cooler WB as it has created a different look to this desert landscape. This also has a wonderful depth to it with the repeating layers of dunes. I just have one very minor suggestion; just a personal preference; which would be to clone out that one bit of brush near the ridge of the second dune as it caught my eye. Outstanding image.

I never get tired of sand. True fact. I really like the near to far composition and the white balance here. If it’s not an violation of your personal ethics, I would be inclined to clone out the two larger “dimples” or blemishes on the right half of the first prominent dune. They grab my eye in an otherwise zen-like landscape.

Thanks for sharing!

This has such a fluid feel to it. I haven’t seen this steel blue color cast take on the dunes before. It’s different and I like it. There is a hint of warm browns in the image. Perhaps bring that out a bit more?

This Is a fantastic image Dave.

I like Igor’s suggestion but it’s great as is

Dave, the light here is really wonderful, I love the steel blue colors on the dunes. While Igor is right that there are some warm colors that could be enhanced, I view doing that as a second processing of this scene that would also work, but I would keep one just as you have presented it here too. I agree with @Ed_Lowe about cloning the thing on the second dune, and i might consider cloning some of the dark patches in the URC too.

While this composition works very well as presented, I could play all day with alternate crops.
Here is one alternate comp that I found pleasing (also includes suggested cloning).


This is really good, Dave. The colors on the sand work great and you have an excellent flowing composition. I would clone out the dimple toward the top of the foremost peak but not a biggie at all.

I love this original image and color pallet. Beautifully balanced elements in the scene, even if the dominant far peak is ever so slightly to the right. The subdued colors help to augment the textures and lines so nicely demonstrated. Due to the expanse of the desert, this (presumably) 4:5 crop crowds the scene to my eye and I find myself wanting to see more to the left or right such as a 2:3 crop. Regardless, a highly successful and very pleasing image. Thanks for sharing!

Dave, I’m loving this image! Beautifully captured and processed. Looks and works great for me as it is. The small cloning suggestions work well too. The tones in this are just wonderful.


This is just wonderful! The soft lighting renders this dune scene beautifully! This is beautifully framed and processed as well. I think the curved ridge at the bottom frames and anchors the scene perfectly (although it would be nice to have a sliver more where the bottom of the curve gets closer to the edge - no biggie though.)

I would agree with other comments about cloning out that dried plant or whatever on the right of the first primary dune. But that’s minor as well.

Great work! I never tire of dune images. This one is awesome.


Beautiful shot Dave, I really like the tones, repeating patterns and how you framed the shot with the bottom curved dune. I would clone out that one imperfection in the first dune.

Two thumbs up, or maybe five, for this rendition of the dunes. I love the curve at the bottom and the cool colors. Agree about the removal of the two little sticks on the main dune.

10 thumbs up from me…
I love the light at the top of the frame.
Would not change a thing.

I did work on my warming idea yesterday but decided it was just different and not really better. But since I went to the trouble of doing the work I might as well post it. I also made a small crop in that I thought it looked better without the lowest layer going from one side to the other.

1 Like

I love everything about this shot Ed. And I have also agree with @Blake_Randall on that little imperfection.

@Ed_McGuirk thanks for your thoughtful input and taking time to work with my image. I think the alternate comp. works equally well but I think the cloning of those dark sand patches in the URC helped a lot.

Thanks @Igor_Doncov for the constructive critique and reworking the file. Your crop definitely works well - have to stare at it awhile to see if I prefer it. The warmer rendering is definitely another valid way to take the file. The guy I shot with took a very similar composition and did some high key processing that I like very much. So many different ways to go…

@Ed_Lowe, @Lon_Overacker, @Greg_Stokesbury, @Harley_Goldman, @Jim_McGovern, @Marylynne_Diggs, @Nathan_Klein, @Nick_Bristol, @Blake_Randall, @Dan_Kearl, @Kathy_Barnhart Thanks for the constructive comments/feedback.

@Dave_Dillemuth I was there last weekend, looking for intimate shots like this. I like it with and without the small stick on the first dune. I think the imperfections give it a sense of reality. The cloning of the dark spots in the URC does smooth out the texture though.

Great work!

The detail on the sand and the composition are great, but the white balance is stunning, so different from most Death Valley dune images. I agree with Igor that it can probably not be made better. As to alternate compositions, yes there probably are many possibilities but your original take works very well, and almost certainly as well as anything else I can think of.